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The Great Papal Encyclicals 

Quanta Cura & The Syllabus of Errors 
Condemning Current Errors 

Pius IX 


Quanta Cura & The Syllabus of Errors 



Condemning Current Errors 

December 8,1864 


Encyclical Letter of Pope Pius IX 

Quanta Cura 1 
Condemning Current Errors 

December, 8, 1864 

To Our Venerable Brethren, all Patriarchs, 
Primates, Archbishops and Bishops having 
Favor and Communion of the Holy See. 

Venerable Brethren, Health and Apostolic Benediction. 

1 . It it well known unto all men, and especially to 
You, Venerable Brothers, with what great care and pasto- 
ral vigilance Our Predecessors, the Roman Pontiffs, have 
discharged the Office entrusted by Christ Our Lord to 
them, in the Person of the Most Blessed Peter, Prince of 
the Apostles, have unremittingly discharged the duty of 
feeding the lambs and the sheep, and have diligently nour- 
ished the Lord's entire flock with the words of faith, im- 
bued it with salutary doctrine, and guarded it from poi- 
soned pastures. And those Our Predecessors, who were 
the assertors and Champions of the august Catholic Re- 
ligion, of truth and justice, being as they were chiefly 
solicitous for the salvation of souls, held nothing to be of 
so great importance as the duty of exposing and condemn- 
ing, in their most wise Letters and Constitutions, all her- 
esies and errors which are hostile to moral honesty and to 
the eternal salvation of mankind, and which have fre- 
quently stirred up terrible commotions and have dam- 
aged both the Christian and civil commonwealths in a 
disastrous manner. Wherefore those Our Predecessors 
have, with Apostolic fortitude, continually resisted the 
machinations of those evil men, who, "foaming out their 
own confusion, like the raging waves of the sea," and 
"promising liberty, while they are themselves the slaves of 
corruption," endeavored by their fallacious opinions and 
most wicked writings to subvert the foundations of Reli- 
gion and of civil Society, to remove from our midst all 
virtue and justice, to deprave the hearts and minds of all, 
to turn away from right discipline of morals the incau- 
tious, and especially inexperienced youth, miserably cor- 
rupting them, leading them into the nets of error, and 
finally withdrawing them from the bosom of the Catho- 
lic Church. 

2. And now, Venerable Brothers, as is also very well 
known to yon, scarcely had We (by the secret Dispensa- 
tion of Divine Providence, certainly by no merit of Our 
own) been called to this Chair of Peter, when We, to the 
extreme grief of Our soul, beheld a horrible tempest stirred 
up by so many erroneous opinions, and the dreadful and 
never enough to be lamented mischiefs which redound 

to Christian people from such errors; and We then, in 
discharge of Our Apostolic Ministerial Office, imitating 
the example of Our illustrious Predecessors, raised Our 
voice, and in several published Encyclical Letters, and in 
Allocutions delivered in Consistory, and in other Apos- 
tolic Letters, We condemned the prominent, most griev- 
ous errors of the age, and We stirred up your excellent 
episcopal vigilance, and again and again did We admon- 
ish and exhort all the sons of the Catholic Church, who 
are most dear to Us, that they should abhor and shun all 
the said errors, as they would the contagion of a fatal 
pestilence. Especially in Our first Encyclical Letter, writ- 
ten to You on the 9th of November, A.D. 1846, and in 
two Allocutions, one of which was delivered by Us in 
Consistory on the 9th of December, A.D. 1854, and the 
other on the 9th of June, A.D. 1862, We condemned the 
monstrous and portentous opinions, which prevail espe- 
cially in the present age, to the very great loss of souls, 
and even to the detriment of civil society, and which are 
in the highest degree hostile, not only to the Catholic 
Church, and to her salutary doctrine and venerable laws, 
but also to the everlasting law of nature engraven by God 
Upon the hearts of all men, and to right reason; and out 
of which almost all errors originate. 

3. Now although hitherto We have not omitted to 
denounce and reprove the chief errors of this kind, yet 
the cause of the Catholic Church and the salvation of 
souls committed to Us by God, and even the interests of 
human society absolutely demand, that once again We 
should stir up Your pastoral solicitude, to drive away other 
erroneous opinions which flow from those errors above 
specified, as their source. These false and perverse opin- 
ions are so much the more detestable, by as much as they 
have chiefly for their object to hinder and banish that 
salutary influence which the Catholic Church, by the 
institution and command of her Divine Author, ought 
freely to exercise, even to the consummation of the world, 
not only over individual men, but nations, peoples, and 
sovereigns, and to abolish that mutual cooperation and 

agreement of counsels between the Priesthood and Gov- 
ernments, which has always been propitious and condu- 
cive to the welfare both of Church and State. (Gregory 
XVI, Encyclical Minaii Vos, Aug. 15, 1852). For you know 
well, Venerable Brethren, that at this time there are found 
not a few who, applying to civil intercourse the impious 
and absurd principles of what they call Naturalism, dare 
teach "that the best form of Society, and the exigencies of 
civil progress, absolutely require human society to be con- 
stituted and governed without any regard whatsoever to 
Religion, as if this [Religion] did not even exist, or at 
least without making any distinction between true and 
false religions." Contrary to the teachings of the Holy 
Scriptures, of the Church, and of the Holy Fathers, these 
persons do not hesitate to assert, that "the best condition 
of human society is that wherein no duty is recognized 
by the Government of correcting, by enacted penalties, 
the violators of the Catholic Religion, except when the 
maintenance of the public peace requires it." From this 
totally false notion of social government, they fear not to 
uphold that erroneous opinion most pernicious to the 
Catholic Church, and to the salvation of souls, which 
was called by Our Predecessor, Gregory XVI (lately 
quoted) the insanity [deliraiueutimi] (Ibid.): namely, "that 
the liberty of conscience and of worship is the peculiar 
(or inalienable) right of every man, which should be pro- 
claimed by law, and that citizens have the right to all kinds 
of liberty, to be restrained by no law, whether ecclesiasti- 
cal or civil, by which they may be enabled to manifest 
openly and publicly their ideas, by word of mouth, 
through the press, or by any other means." But whilst 
these men make these rash assertions, they do not reflect, 
or consider, that they preach the liberty of perdition (St. 
Augustine, Epistle 105, al. 166), and that, "if it is always 
free to human arguments to discuss, men will never be 
wanting who will dare to resist the truth, and to rely upon 
the loquacity of human wisdom, when we know from 
the command of Our Lord Jesus Christ, how faith and 
Christian wisdom ought to avoid this most mischievous 
vanity." (St. Leo, Epistle 164, al. 133. sec 2. Boll, ed.) 

4. And since Religion has been excluded from civil 
Society, and the doctrine and authority of divine Revela- 
tion, or the true and germane notion of justice and hu- 
man right have been obscured and lost, and material or 
brute force substituted in the place of true justice and 
legitimate right, it is easy to perceive why some persons, 

forgetting and trampling upon the most certain principles 
of sound reason, dare ciy out together, "that the will of 
the people, manifested by what they call public opinion, 
or in any other way, constitutes the supreme law, inde- 
pendent of all divine and human right, and that, in the 
political order, accomplished facts, by the mere fact of 
having been accomplished, have the force of right." But 
who does not see and plainly understand, that the Soci- 
ety of man, freed from the bonds of Religion and of true 
justice, can certainly have no other purpose than the ef- 
fort to obtain and accumulate wealth, and that in its ac- 
tions it follows no other law than that of the uncurbed 
cupidity, which seeks to secure its own pleasures and com- 
forts? For this reason, also, these same men persecute with 
such bitter hatred the Religious Orders, who have de- 
served so well of Religion, civil Society, and Letters; they 
loudly declare that these Orders have no right to exist, 
and, in so doing, make common cause with the false- 
hoods of the heretics. For, as was most wisely taught by 
Our Predecessor of illustrious memory, Pius VI, "the abo- 
lition of Religious Orders injures the state of public pro- 
fession of the Evangelical Counsels; injures a mode of life 
recommended by the Church, as in conformity with 
Apostolic doctrine; does wrong to the illustrious founders 
whom we venerate upon our altars, and who constituted 
these societies under the inspiration of God." (Epistle to 
Cardinal de la Rochefoucauld, March 10, 1791.) 

And these same persons also impiously pretend that 
citizens should be deprived of the liberty of publicly be- 
stowing on the Church their alms for the sake of Chris- 
tian charity, and that the law forbidding "senile labor on 
account of Divine worship" upon certain fixed days should 
be abolished, upon the most fallacious pretext that such 
liberty and such law are contrary to the principles of po- 
litical economy. Not content with abolishing Religion in 
public Society, they desire further to banish it from fami- 
lies and private life. Teaching and professing these most 
fatal errors of Socialism and Communism, they declare 
"that domestic society, or the family, derives all its reason 
of existence solely from civil law, whence it is to be con- 
cluded that from civil law descend and depend all the 
rights of parents over their children, and, above all, the 
right of instructing and educating them." By such impi- 
ous opinions and machinations, do these most false teach- 
ers endeavor to eliminate the salutary teaching and influ- 
ence of the Catholic Church from the instruction and 

education of youth, and miserably to infect and deprave 
by every pernicious error and vice the tender and pliant 
minds of youth. All those who endeavor to throw into 
confusion both religious and political affairs, to destroy 
the good order of society, and to annihilate all Divine 
and human rights, have always exerted all their criminal 
schemes, attention, and efforts upon the manner in which 
they might, above all, deprave and delude unthinking 
youth, as We have already shown: it is upon the corrup- 
tion of youth that they place all their hopes. Thus they 
never cease to attack by every method the Clergy; both 
secular and regular, from whom, as testify to us in so con- 
spicuous a manner the most certain records of history, 
such considerable benefits have been bestowed in abun- 
dance upon Christian and Civil Society and upon the 
republic of Letters; asserting of the Clergy in general, that 
they are the enemies of the useful sciences, of progress, 
and of civilization, and that they ought to be deprived of 
all participation in the work of teaching and training the 

5. Others, reviving the depraved fictions of innova- 
tors, errors many times condemned, presume, with ex- 
traordinary impudence, to subordinate the authority of 
the Church and of this Apostolic See, conferred upon it 
by Christ our Lord, to the judgment of civil authority, 
and to deny to all the rights of this same Church and this 
See with regard to those things which appertain to the 
secular order. For these persons do not blush to affirm 
"that the laws of the Church do not bind the conscience, 
if they are not promulgated by the civil power; that the 
acts and decrees of the Roman Pontiffs concerning reli- 
gion and the Church require the sanction and approba- 
tion, or at least the assent of the civil power; and that the 
Apostolic Constitutions (Clement XII, In Eminent; 
Benedict XIV, Proiidas Roinanoruin; Pius VII, Ecclesiam; 
Leo XII, Quo Giaiiora) condemning secret societies, 
whether these exact or do not exact an oath of secrecy, 
and branding with anathema their followers and parti- 
sans, have no force in those countries of the world where 
such associations are tolerated by the civil Government." 

It is likewise affirmed "that the excommunications 
launched by the Council of Trent and the Roman Pon- 
tiffs against those who invade and usurp the possessions 
of the Church and its rights, strive, by confounding the 
spiritual and temporal orders, to attain solely a mere 

earthly end; that the Church can decide nothing which 
may bind the consciences of the faithful in the temporal 
order of things; the right of the Church is not competent 
to restrain with temporal penalties the violators of her 
laws; and that it is in accordance with the principles of 
theology and of public law r for the civil Government to 
appropriate property possessed by the churches, the Reli- 
gious Orders, and other pious establishments." And they 
have no shame in avowing openly and publicly the he- 
retical statement and principle, from which have ema- 
nated so many errors and perverse opinions, "that the 
ecclesiastical pow r er is not, by the law r of God, made dis- 
tinct from and independent of the civil pow r er, and that 
no distinction, no independence of this kind can be main- 
tained without the Church invading and usurping the 
essential rights of the civil pow r er." Neither can We pass 
over in silence the audacity of those who, not enduring 
sound doctrine, assert that "the judgments and decrees of 
the Holy See, the object of which is declared to concern 
the general welfare of the Church, its rights, and its disci- 
pline, do not claim acquiescence and obedience, under 
pain of sin and loss of the Catholic profession, if they do 
not treat of the dogmas of Faith and of morals." 

How contrary is this doctrine to the Catholic dogma, 
of the plenary pow r er divinely conferred on the Sovereign 
Pontiff by Our Lord Jesus Christ, to guide, to supervise 
and to govern the Universal Church, no one can fail to 
see and understand, clearly and evidently. 

6. Amid so great a perversity of depraved opinions. 
We, remembering Our Apostolic duty, and solicitous be- 
fore all things for Our most holy Religion, for sound doc- 
trine, for the salvation of the souls confided to Us, and 
for the welfare of human Society itself, have considered 
the moment opportune to raise anew r Our Apostolic voice. 
Therefore do We, by our Apostolic authority, reprobate, 
denounce, and condemn generally and particularly all the 
evil opinions and doctrines specially mentioned in this 
Letter, and We wish that they may be held as reprobated, 
denounced, and condemned by all the children of the 
Catholic Church. 

7. But You know r further, Venerable Brothers, that in 
Our time the haters of all truth and justice and violent 
enemies of our Religion have spread abroad other impi- 
ous doctrines, by means of pestilent books, pamphlets, 


and journals, which, distributed over the surface of the 
earth, deceive the people and wickedly lie. You are not 
ignorant that in our day men are found who, animated 
and excited by the spirit of Satan, have arrived at that 
excess of impiety as not to fear to deny Our Lord and 
Master Jesus Christ, and to attack His Divinity with scan- 
dalous persistence. And here We cannot abstain from 
awarding You well-merited praise. Venerable Brothers, for 
all the care and zeal, with which You have raised Your 
episcopal voice against so great an impiety. 

8. And therefore in this present Letter, We speak to 
You with all affection: to You who, called to partake of 
Our cares, are Our greatest support in the midst of Our 
very great grief; Our joy and consolation, by reason of 
the excellent piety of which You give proof in maintain- 
ing Religion, and the marvelous love, faith, and disci- 
pline with which, united by the strongest and most affec- 
tionate ties to Us and this Apostolic See. You strive val- 
iantly and accurately to fulfill Your most weighty episco- 
pal ministry. We do then expect, from Your excellent pas- 
toral zeal, that, taking the sword of the Spirit, which is 
the Word of God, and strengthened by the grace of Our 
Lord Jesus Christ, You will watch with redoubled care 
that the faithful committed to Your charge "abstain from 
evil pasturage, which Jesus Christ doth not till, because 
His Father hath not planted it." (St. Ignatius, M. ad. 
Phihdelph., St Leo, Epist. 156, al. 125.) Never cease, 
then, to inculcate on the faithful that all true happiness 
for mankind proceeds from our august Religion, from its 
doctrine and practice, and that that people is happy who 
have the Lord for their God (Psalm 143). Teach them 
"that kingdoms rest upon the foundation of the Catholic 
faith (St. Celest, Epist. 22 ad. Syn. Eph.), and that noth- 
ing is so deadly, nothing so certain to engender eveiy ill, 
nothing so exposed to danger, as for men to believe that 
they stand in need of nothing else than the freewill which 
we received at birth, if we ask nothing further from the 
Lord; that is to say, if, forgetting our Author, we abjure 
His power to show that we are free" (St. Innocent I, epistle 
29 ad Episc. Cone. Carthag. apud Coust., p. 891). And 
do not omit to teach, "that the royal power has been es- 
tablished, not only to exercise the government of the 
world, but, above all, for the protection of the Church 
(St. Leo, Epist. 156, al. 125); and that there is nothing 
more profitable and more glorious for the Sovereigns of 
States, and Kings, than to leave the Catholic Church to 

exercise her laws, and not to permit any to curtail her 
liberty"; as Our most wise and courageous Predecessor, 
St. Felix, wrote to the Emperor Zeno. "It iscertain that it 
is advantageous for Sovereigns, when the cause of God is 
in question, to submit their Royal will, according to his 
ordinance, to the Priests of Jesus Christ, and not to pre- 
fer it before them" (Pius VII, Encyclical Diu Satis, May 

9. And if always, so especially at present, Venerable 
Brothers, in the midst of the numerous calamities of the 
Church and of civil Society, in view also of the terrible 
conspiracy of our adversaries against the Catholic Church 
and this Apostolic See, and the great accumulation of er- 
rors, it is before all things necessary to go with faith to 
the Throne of Grace, to obtain mercy and find Grace in 
timely aid. We have therefore judged it right to excite the 
piety of all the faithful, in order that, with Us and with 
You all, they may pray without ceasing to the Father of 
lights and of mercies, supplicating and beseeching Him 
fervently and humbly, and in the plenitude of their faith 
they may seek refuge in Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has 
redeemed us to God with his blood, that by their earnest 
and continual prayers, they may obtain from that most 
dear Heart, victim of burning charity for us, that it would 
draw all to Himself by the bonds of His love, that all men 
being inflamed by His holy love may live according to 
His heart, pleasing God in all things, and being fruitful 

in all good works. 

But, as there is no doubt that the prayers most agree- 
able to God are those of men who approach Him with a 
heart pure from all stain, We have thought it good to 
open to Christians, with Apostolic liberality, the heav- 
enly treasures of the Church confided to Our dispensa- 
tion, so that the faithful, more strongly drawn towards 
true piety, and purified from the stain of their sins by the 
Sacrament of Penance, may more confidently offer up 
their prayers to God and obtain His mercy and grace. 

10. By these Letters therefore, emanating from Our 
Apostolic authority, We grant to all and each of the faith- 
ful of both sexes throughout the Catholic world a Ple- 
nary Indulgence, in the manner of a Jubilee, during one 
month, up to the end of the coming year 1 865, and not 
longer, to be carried into effect by You, Venerable Breth- 
ren, and the other legitimate local Ordinaries, in the form 


and manner laid down at die commencement of Our Sov- 
ereign Pontificate by Our Apostolic Letters in form of a 
Brief, dated the 20th of November, A.D. 1846, and sent 
to the whole Episcopate of the world, commencing with 
the words, "Arcano Dhinae Providentiae concilio" and 
with the faculties given by Us in those same Letters. We 
desire, however, that all the prescriptions of Our Letters 
shall be observed, saving the exceptions We have declared 
are to be made. And we have granted this, notwithstand- 
ing all which might make to the contrary, even those 
worthy of special and individual mention and deroga- 
tion; and in order that every doubt and difficulty may be 
removed, We have ordered that copies of those Letters 
should again be forwarded to You. 

1 1 . Let us implore, Venerable Brethren, from our in- 
most hearts, and with all our souls, the mercy of God. 
He has encouraged us so to do, by saying: "I will not 
withdraw My mercy from them." "Let us ask and We shall 
receive; and if there is slowness or delay in the reception, 
because we have grievously offended, let us knock, be- 
cause to him that knocketh it shall be opened; if our 
prayers, groans, and tears, in which We must persist and 
be obstinate, knock at the door: and if our prayers be 
united; let each one pray to God not for himself alone, 
but for all his brethren, as the Lord hath taught us to 
pray" (St. Cyprian, Epistle 11). But, in order that God 
may accede more easily to Our and Your prayers, and to 
those of all His faithful servants, let us employ in all con- 
fidence, as our Mediatrix, with Him, the Virgin Mary, 
Mother of God, who has destroyed all heresies through- 
out the world, and who, the most loving Mother of us 
all, is "very gracious . . . and full of mercy, . . . allows her- 
self to be entreated by all, shows herself most clement 
towards all, and takes under her pitying care all our ne- 
cessities with a most ample affection" (St. Bernard, Serm. 
de duodechn praerogathis B. V.M. in verbis Apocalyp) , 
and, "sitting as queen at the right hand of her only begot- 
ten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in a golden vestment 
clothed around with various adornments," there is noth- 
ing which she cannot obtain from him. Let us implore 
also the intervention of the Blessed Peter, Chief of the 
Apostles, and his co-Apostle Paul, and of all those Saints 
of heaven, who, having already become the friends of God, 
have been admitted into the celestial kingdom, where they 
are crowned and bear palms in their hands; and who, 
henceforth certain of their' own immortality, are solici- 


tous for our salvation. 

12. In conclusion, We ask of God from Our inmost 
soul the abundance of all His celestial benefits for you, 
and We bestow upon You, Venerable Brethren, and upon 
all the faithful Clergy, and Laity committed to Your care, 
Our Apostolic Benediction from the most loving depths 
of Our heart, in token of our Charity toward You. 

Given at Rome, from St. Peter's this 8th day of De- 
cember, 1864, the tenth anniversary of the dogmatic Defi- 
nition of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, 
Mother of God, in the nineteenth year of Our Pontifi- 
cate. [D-1688-1 780] 



Syllabus of the principal errors of our time, which are 
censured in the consistorial Allocutions, Encyclical and 
odier Apostolic Letters of our Most Holy Lord. Pope Pius 


1 . There exists no Supreme, all-wise, all-provident Di- 
\ine Being, distinct from the universe, and God is identi- 
cal with the nature of tilings, and is, therefore, subject to 
changes. In effect, God is produced in man and in the 
world, and all things are God and have the very substance 
of God, and God is one and the same thing with the 
world, and, therefore, spirit with matter, necessity with 
liberty, good with evil, justice with injustice.— Allocu- 
tion Maxima Quidem, June 9, 1862. 

2. All action of God upon man and the world is to be 
denied.— Ibid. 

3. Human reason, without any reference whatsoever 

to God, is the sole arbiter of truth and falsehood, and of 
good and evil; it is law to itself, and suffices, by its natural 
force, to secure the welfare of men and of nations. — Ibid. 

4. All the truths of religion proceed from the innate 
strength of human reason; hence reason is the ultimate 
standard by which man can and ought to arrive at the 
knowledge of all truths of every kind.— Ibid., and Encyc- 
lical QiiiPimibusNoY. 9, 1846, etc. 

5. Divine revelation is imperfect, and therefore sub- 
ject to a continual and indefinite progress, correspond- 
ing with the advancement of human reason.— Ibid. 

6. The faith of Christ is in opposition to human rea- 
son, and divine revelation not only is not useful, but is 
even hurtful to the perfection of man.— Ibid. 

7. The prophecies and miracles set forth and recorded 
in the Sacred Scriptures are the fiction of poets, and the 
mysteries of the Christian faith the result of philosophi- 

cal investigations. In the books of the Old and the New 


Testament there are contained mythical inventions, and 
Jesus Christ is Himself a myth— Ibid. 


8. As human reason is placed on a level with religion 

itself, so theological [sciences] must be treated in the same manner 
as philosophical sciences.— Allocution Singiilari Quadain, 
Dec. 9. 1854. 

9. All the dogmas of the Christian religion are indis- 
criminately the object of natural science or philosophy; 
and human reason, enlightened solely in an historical way, 
is able, by its own natural strength and principles, to at- 
tain to the true science of even the most abstruse dog- 
mas; provided only that such dogmas be proposed to rea- 
son itself as its object.— Letters to the Arehbishop of 
Munich, Giaiisshnas Inter, Dec. 11, 1862, and Tuas 
Ubentei; Dec. 21, 1863. 

10. As the philosopher is one thing, and philosophy 
another, so it is the right and duty of the philosopher to 
subject himself to the authority which he shall have proved 
to be true; but philosophy neither can nor ought to sub- 
mit to any such authority.— Ibid., Dec. 11,1862. 

1 1 . The Church not only ought never to pass judg- 
ment on philosophy, but ought to tolerate the errors of 
philosophy, leaving it to correct itself.— Ibid., Dec. 21, 

12. The decrees of the Apostolic See and of the Ro- 
man congregations impede the true progress of science.— 

13. The method and principles by which the old scho- 
lastic doctors cultivated theology are no longer suitable 
to the demands of our times and to the progress of the 
sciences .—Ibid. 

14. Philosophy is to be treated without taking any 
account of supernatural revelation.— Ibid. 

N.B. To the rationalistic system belong in great part 
the errors of Anthony Gunthcr, condemned in the letter 
to the Cardinal Archbishop of Cologne. Exiuiiain Tuain, 
June 15, 1857, and in that to the Bishop of Breslau, Dolore 


Haud Mediocn, April 30, 1860. 


15. Eveiy man is free to embrace and profess that 
religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall 
consider true.— Allocution Maxima Quidem , June 
9,1862; Damnatio Multiplices Inter June 10, 1851. 

16. Man may, in the observance of any religion what- 
ever, lind the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eter- 
nal salvation.— Encyclical Qui Pluiibus, Nov. 9, 1846. 

17. Good hope at least is to be entertained of the 
eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true 
Church of Christ .—Encyclical Quanto Conliciainui; Aug, 
10, 1863, etc. 

18. Protestantism is nothing more than another foini 
of the same true Christian religion, in which form it is 
given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church- 
Encyclical Noscitis. Dec. 8, 1849. 


Pests of this kind are frequently reprobated in the se- 
verest terms in the Encyclical Qui Pluiibus, Nov. 9, 1846, 
Allocution Quibus Quantisque, April 20, 1 849, Encycli- 
cal Noscitis et Nobiscuin, Dec. 8, 1849, Allocution 
Singulaii Quadain, Dec. 9, 1854, Encyclical Quanto 
Conliciainui; Aug. 10, 1863. 


19. The Church is not a true and perfect society, en- 
tirely free; nor is she endowed with proper and perpetual 
rights of her own, conferred upon her by her Divine 
Founder; but it appertains to the civil pow r er to define 
what are the rights of the Church, and the limits within 
which she may exercise those rights.— Allocution 
Singulaii Quadain, Dec. 9, 1854, etc. 

20. The ecclesiastical pow r er ought not to exercise its 


authority without the permission and assent of the civil 
government.— Allocution Meuiiiiit Unusquisque, Sept. 
30, 1861. 

21 . The Church has not the power of defining dog- 
matically that the religion of the Catholic Church is the 
only true religion.— Damnatio Multiplices Inter, June 10, 

22. The obligation by which Catholic teachers and 
authors are strictly bound is confined to those things only 
which are proposed to universal belief as dogmas of faith 
by the infallible judgment of the Church.— Letter to the 
Archbishop of Munich, Tuas Libentei; Dec. 21, 1863. 

23. Roman pontiffs and ecumenical councils have 
wandered outside the limits of their powers, have usurped 
the rights of princes, and have even erred in denning 
matters of faith and morals.— Damnatio Multiplices In- 
ter June 10, 1851. 

24. The Church has not the power of using force, 

nor has she any temporal power, direct or indirect.— Ap- 
ostolic Letter A d Apostolicae, Aug. 22, 1851. 

25. Besides the power inherent in the episcopate, other 
temporal power has been attributed to it by the civil au- 
thority, granted either explicitly or tacitly, which on that 
account is revocable by the civil authority whenever it 
thinks hi.— Ibid. 

26. The Church has no innate and legitimate right of 
acquiring and possessing property.— Allocution Nuii- 
quani Fore, Dec. 15, 1856; Encyclical Incredibili, Sept. 
7, 1863. 

27. The sacred ministers of the Church and the Ro- 
man pontiff are to be absolutely excluded from every 
charge and dominion over temporal affairs.— Allocution 
Maxima Qiiidem, June 9, 1862. 

28. It is not lawful for bishops to publish even letters 
Apostolic without the permission of Government.— Al- 
locution Nunquani Fore, Dec. 15, 1856. 

29. Favors granted by the Roman pontiff ought to be 
considered null, unless they have been sought for through 


the civil government.— Ibid. 

30. The immunity of the Church and of ecclesiasti- 
cal persons derived its origin from civil law.— Damnatio 
Miiltiplices Inter, June 10, 1851. 

31 . The ecclesiastical forum or tribunal for the tem- 
poral causes, whether civil or criminal, of clerics, ought 
by all means to be abolished, even without consulting 
and against the protest of the Holy See.— Allocution Nun- 
quain Fore, Dec. 15, 1856; Allocution Acerbisshnuin, Sept. 
27, 1852. 

32. The personal immunity by which clerics are ex- 
onerated from military conscription and service in the 
army may be abolished without violation cither of natu- 
ral right or equity. Its abolition is called for by civil 
progress, especially in a society framed on the model of a 
liberal government.— Letter to the Bishop of [Montreal] , 
Singidmis Nobisque, Sept. 29, 1864. 

33. It docs not appertain exclusively to the power of 
ecclesiastical jurisdiction by right, proper and innate, to 
direct the teaching of theological questions.— Letter to 

the Archbishop of Munich, Tuas libentei; Dec. 21, 1863. 

34. The teaching of those who compare the Sover- 
eign Pontiff to a prince, free and acting in the universal 
Church, is a doctrine which prevailed in the Middle 
Ages.— Apostolic Letter Ad Apostolicae, Aug. 22, 1851. 

35. There is nothing to prevent the decree of a gen- 
eral council, or the act of all peoples, from transferring 
the supreme pontificate from the bishop and city of Rome 
to another bishop and another city.— Ibid. 

36. The definition of a national council does not ad- 
mit of any subsequent discussion, and the civil authority 
can assume this principle as the basis of its act?,.— Ibid. 

37. National churches, withdrawn from the author- 
ity of the Roman pontiff and altogether separated, can be 
established.— Allocution Miiltis Gimibusque, Dec. 17, 

38. The Roman pontiffs have, by their too arbitrary 
conduct, contributed to the division of the Church into 


Eastern and Western. — Apostolic Letter Ad Apostolicae 
Aug. 22. 1851. 


39. The State, as being the origin and source of all 
rights, is endowed with a certain right not circumscribed 
by any limits.— Allocution Maxima Quidem June 9, 

40. The teaching of the Catholic Church is hostile to 
the well-being and interests of society.— Encyclical Qui 
Pluiibus, Nov. 9, 1846; Allocution Qiiibus Quaiitisque, 
April 20, 1849. 

41. The civil government, even when in the hands of 
an infidel sovereign, has a right to an indirect negative 
power over religious affairs. It therefore possesses not only 
the right called that of exsequatui; but also that of appeal, 
called appellatio ab abusu.— Apostolic Letter Ad 
Apostolicae, Aug. 22, 1851. 

42. In the case of conflicting laws enacted by the two 
powers, the civil law prevails.— Ibid. 

43. The secular power has authority to rescind, de- 
clare and render null, solemn conventions, commonly 
called concordats, entered into with the Apostolic See, 
regarding the use of rights appertaining to ecclesiastical 
immunity, without the consent of the Apostolic See, and 
even in spite of its protest.— Allocution Multis 
Graiibusque, Dec. 17. 1860; Allocution In Consistoriali, 
Nov. 1, 1850. 

44. The civil authority may interfere in matters relat- 
ing to religion, morality and spiritual government: hence, 
it can pass judgment on the instructions issued for the 
guidance of consciences, conformably with their mission, 
by the pastors of the Church. Further, it has the right to 
make enactments regarding the administration of the di- 
vine sacraments, and the dispositions necessary for re- 
ceiving them.— Allocutions In Consistoriali, Nov. 1, 1850, 
and Maxima Quidem, June 9,1862. 

45. The entile government of public schools in which 


the youth of a Christian state is educated, except (to a 
certain extent) in the case of episcopal seminaries, may 
and ought to appertain to the civil power, and belong to 
it so far that no other authority whatsoever shall be rec- 
ognized as having any right to interfere in the discipline 
of the schools, the arrangement of the studies, the con- 
ferring of degrees, in the choice or approval of the teach- 
ers.— Allocutions Qiiibus Luctuosissiuiis, Sept. 5, 1851, 
and In Consistoriali, Nov. 1, 1850. 

46. Moreover, even in ecclesiastical seminaries, the 
method of studies to be adopted is subject to the civil 
authority.— Allocution Nuiiquain Fore, Dec. 15, 1856. 

47. The best theory of civil society requires that popu- 
lar schools open to children of every class of the people, 
and, generally, all public institutes intended for instruc- 
tion in letters and philosophical sciences and for carrying 
on the education of youth, should be freed from all eccle- 
siastical authority, control and interference, and should 
be fully subjected to the civil and political power at the 
pleasure of the rulers, and according to the standard of 
the prevalent opinions of the age.— Epistle to the Arch- 
bishop of Freiburg, Ciun Non Sine, July 14, 1864. 

48. Catholics may approve of the system of educat- 
ing youth unconnected with Catholic faith and the power 
of the Church, and which regards the knowledge of merely 
natural things, and only, or at least primarily, the ends of 
earthly social Me.— Ibid. 

49. The civil power may prevent the prelates of the 
Church and the faithful from communicating freely and 
mutually with the Roman pontiff— Allocution Maxima 
Qiiidem, June 9, 1862. 

50. Lay authority possesses of itself the right of pre- 
senting bishops, and may require of them to undertake 
the administration of the diocese before they receive ca- 
nonical institution, and the Letters Apostolic from the 
Holy See.— Allocution Nuiiquain Fore, Dec. 15, 1856. 

51 . And, further, the lay government has the right of 
deposing bishops from their pastoral functions, and is 
not bound to obey the Roman pontiff in those things 
which relate to the institution of bishoprics and the ap- 
pointment of bishops.— Allocution Acerbissiinuin, Sept. 


27, 1852; Damnatio Multiplices Inter, June 10, 1851. 

52. Government can, by its own right, alter the age 
prescribed by the Church for the religious profession of 
women and men; and may require of all religious orders 
to admit no person to take solemn vows without its per- 
mission.— Allocution Nunquain Fore, Dec. 15, 1856. 

53. The laws enacted for the protection of religious 
orders and regarding their rights and duties ought to be 
abolished; nay, more, civil Government may lend its as- 
sistance to all who desire to renounce the obligation which 
they have undertaken of a religious life, and to break their 
vows. Government may also suppress the said religious 
orders, as likewise collegiate churches and simple ben- 
efices, even those of advowson, and subject their prop- 
erty and revenues to the administration and pleasure of 
the civil power— Allocutions Acerbisshnuin, Sept. 27, 
1852; Probe Meuiineritis, Jan. 22, 1855; Cum Saepe, July 

54. Kings and princes are not only exempt from the 
jurisdiction of the Church, but are superior to the Church 
in deciding questions of jurisdiction.— Damnatio 
Multiplices Inter, June 10, 1851. 

55. The Church ought to be separated from the State, 
and the State from the Church.— Allocution 
Acerbissinuun, Sept. 27, 1852. 


56. Moral laws do not stand in need of the divine 
sanction and it is not at all necessary that human laws 
should be made conformable to the laws of nature, and 
receive their power of binding from God.— Allocution 
Maxima Quideni, June 9, 1862. 

57. The science of philosophical things and morals 
and also civil laws may and ought to keep aloof from 
divine and ecclesiastical authority.— Ibid. 

58. No other forces are to be recognized except those 
which reside in matter, and all the rectitude and excel- 
lence of morality ought to be placed in the accumulation 
and increase of riches by every possible means, and the 


gratification of pleasure.— Ibid.; Encyclical Quaiito 
Coiificiainui; Aug. 10, 1863. 

59. Right consists in the material fact. All human 
duties are an empty word, and all human facts have the 
force of right.— Allocution Maxima Qiiidem, June 9, 

60. Authority is nothing else but numbers and the 
sum total of material forces.— Ibid. 

61 . The injustice of an act when successful inflicts no 
injury on the sanctity of right.— Allocution Jaindudimi 
Ceniiinus, March 18, 1861. 

62. The principle of non-intervention, as it is called, 
ought to be proclaimed and observed.— Allocution Novos 
etAiite, Sept. 28, 1860. 

63. It is lawful to refuse obedience to legitimate 
princes, and even to rebel against them.— Encyclical Qui 
Pluiibus, Nov. 9, 1864; Allocution Quibusque Vestnun, 
Oct. 4, 1847; Noscitis et Nobiscimi, Dec. 8, 1849; Letter 
Apostolic Cwn Catliolica. 

64. The violation of any solemn oath, as well as any 
wicked and flagitious action repugnant to the eternal law, 
is not only not blamable but is altogether lawful and 
worthy of the highest praise when done through love of 
country.— Allocution Qiiibus Quantisque, April 20, 1849. 


65. The doctrine that Christ has raised marriage to 
the dignity of a sacrament cannot be at all tolerated.— 
Apostolic Letter Ad Apostolicae, Aug. 22, 1851, 

66. The Sacrament of Marriage is only a something 
accessory to the contract and separate from it, and the 
sacrament itself consists in the nuptial benediction 
alone.— Ibid. 

67. By the law of nature, the marriage tie is not indis- 
soluble, and in many cases divorce properly so called may 
be decreed by the civil authority.— Ibid.; Allocution 
Acerbissimum, Sept. 27, 1852. 


68. The Church has not the power of establishing 
diriment impediments of marriage, but such a power be- 
longs to the civil authority by which existing impediments 
are to be removed.— Damnatio Multiplices Inter, June 10, 

69- In the dark ages the Church began to establish 
diriment impediments, not by her own right, but using a 
power borrowed from the State.— Apostolic Letter Ad 
Apostolicae, Aug. 22, 1851. 

70. The canons of the Council ofTrent, which anath- 
ematize those who dare to deny to the Church the right 
of establishing diriment impediments, either are not dog- 
matic, or must be understood as referring to such bor- 
rowed power.— Ibid. 

71 . The form of solemnizing marriage prescribed by 

the Council of Trent, under pain of nullity, does not bind 
in cases where the civil law lays down another form, and 
declares that when this new form is used the marriage 
shall be valid.— Ibid. 

72. Boniface VIII was the first who declared that the 
vow of chastity taken at ordination renders marriage 
void.— Ibid. 

73. In force of a merely civil contract there may exist 
between Christians a real marriage, and it is false to say 
either that the marriage contract between Christians is 
always a sacrament, or that there is no contract if the 
sacrament be excluded.— Ibid. Letter to the King of 
Sardinia, Sept. 9, 1852; Allocutions Acerbissiuumi, Sept. 
27, 1852; Multis Gravibusque, Dec. 17, 1860. 

74. Matrimonial causes and espousals belong by their 
nature to civil tribunals — Encyclical Qui Pluiibus, Nov. 
9,1846; Damnatio Multiplices Inter, June 10,1851; Ad 
Apostolicae, Aug. 22, 1851; Allocution Acerbissiuuun, 
Sept. 27, 1852. 

N.B.— To the preceding questions may be referred 
two other errors regarding the celibacy of priests and the 
preference due to the state of marriage over that of vir- 
ginity. These have been stigmatized: the first in the En- 
cyclical Qui Pluiibus, Nov. 9, 1846; the second, in the 


Letter Apostolic Multiplices Inter, June 10, 1851. 


75. The children of the Christian and Catholic 
Church are divided amongst themselves about the com- 
patibility of the temporal with the spiritual power.— Ad 
Apostolicae, Aug. 22, 1851. 

76. The abolition of the temporal power of which 

the Apostolic See is possessed would contribute in the 
greatest degree to the liberty and prosperity of the 
Church.— Allocutions Qiiibus Quaiitisque, April 20, 
1849, Si Semper Antea, May 20, 1850. 

N.B.— Besides these errors, explicitly censured, very 
many others are implicitly condemned by the doctrine 
propounded and established, which all Catholics are 
bound most firmly to hold touching the temporal sover- 
eignty of the Roman pontiff. This doctrine is clearly stated 
in the Allocutions Quibus Quaiitisque, April 20, 1 849, 
and Si Semper Antea, May 20, 1850; Letter Apostolic 
Cum Cathotica Ecciesia, Mar eh 26, 1860; Allocutions, 
Novos et Ante, Sept. 28, 1560; Jamdudum Cernimus, 
March 18, 1861; Maxima Quidem, June 9, 1862. 


77. In the present day it is no longer expedient that 
the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion 
of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of wor- 
ship.— Allocution Nemo Vestrum, July 26, 1855. 

78. Hence it has been wisely decided by law, in some 
Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein 
shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar wor- 
ship.— Allocution A cerbissimum, Sept. 27, 1852. 

79. Moreover, it is false that the civil liberty of every 
form of worship, and the full power, given to all, of evenly 
and publicly manifesting any opinions whatsoever and 
thoughts, conduce more easily to corrupt the morals and 
minds of the people, and to propagate the pest of indif- 
ferentism.— Allocution Nunquam Fore, Dec. 15, 1856. 

80. The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile 


himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism arid 
modern civilization.— Allocution Jamduduin Cernimus, 
March 18, 1861. 


THIS enyclical letter of Pope Pius IX was promulgated in 1 864, 
and the attached Syllabus of Errors was simultaneously issued 
by the same great Pontiff. This important papal document was 
sent to all the bishops of the Catholic world "in order that these 
same bishops may have before their eyes all the errors and per- 
nicious doctrines which he [Pius IX] has reprobated and con- 
demned." Though this is all-but-forgotten and greatly ignored 
nowadays, it did ignite a worldwide "firestorm" reaction when 
it was first issued. The world was greatly shocked to discover 
that the Church did not share its high opinion of itself. The Syl- 
labus is a catlog of 80 erroneous propositions, a list of the most 
common errors of modern thinking. Grouped under ten sep- 
arate headings, each proposition is cross-referenced to the 
specific Papal document where the particular proposition was 
dioscussed— and condemned as erroneous. This document is 
particularly useful for us to help clear our minds of these false 
ideas now polluting the world we live in, and whose repercussions 
will clearly affect our future and the future of the world. 

"Teach them that kingdoms rest upon 
the foundation of the Catholic faith... 
and that nothing is so deadly, nothing 
so certain to engender every ill... as for 
men to believe that they stand in need 
of nothing else than the free will which 
we received at birth." 

Translation from version accompanying pastoral 
letter of Archbishop Spalding, Baltimore, 1870. 

Dogmatic Canons and Decrees